HEMPSTEAD, New York – Sophomore guard Eli Pemberton poured in a game-high 27 points and Hofstra shot 63.0 percent from the floor to race past UNCW, 96-76, on Saturday in the first leg of a two-game swing to the Northeast for the Seahawk men’s basketball team.
The Seahawks (7-16, 4-7) played their first game in February and now move up to Boston for a Saturday matinee against Northeastern. The two teams played back on Jan. 13 at Trask Coliseum and the Huskies prevailed in overtime, 81-77.
The Pride, appearing at the Mack Sports Complex for the ninth time this season, improved to 14-9 overall with their second straight win and share second place in the Colonial Athletic Association with Northeastern at 7-4. Charleston and William & Mary hold down first place with 8-3 records.
Pemberton, from Middletown, Conn., made 7-of-10 field goals and finished just one point shy of matching his career high scored against Rider on Dec. 9, 2017. Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman, the CAA’s leading scorer and fourth highest point producer in the country, added 23 points, senior center Rokas Gustys collected 17 points and 16 rebounds and junior guard Kenny Wormley had 12.
Senior guard Jordon Talley paced the Seahawks with 21 points. Redshirt sophomore guard Ty Taylor chipped in 14 points, sophomore guard Jaylen Fornes scored 11 and freshman guard Jay Estime’ wound up with 10.
“We just couldn’t get stops,” said first-year UNCW Head Coach C.B. McGrath. “We did a nice stop of making some shots and running our stuff offensively, but we just couldn’t get the stops we needed to get back into the game. They kept us at arm’s strength and did a better job of running their stuff.
“They made some shots early and we tailed off a bit. We did a good job on Wright-Foreman early. We weren’t as active on the boards as we have been. It was a disappointing effort on the boards, and a disappointing effort defensively.
“We just have to have more pride. We have to have more energy on the defensive end. It was a total lack of concentration and focus. We didn’t show up tonight.”
On “Throwback Thursday” night in Hempstead, Hofstra donned 50s-era uniforms and featured other special events as the two teams battled for the 38th time on the hardwood.
And this one belonged to the Pride.
Hofstra carved out a 48-37 advantage at the break behind 58.6 percent shooting and didn’t let up, connecting on 68 percent in the second half to cruise down the stretch. The Pride led by as many 22 points in the final period before posting the team’s largest margin of victory in the series since late February of 2012.
Clicking on all cylinders, the Pride recorded its largest lead of the game, 94-72, when Wright-Foreman canned his fifth trifecta of the night from the top of the key. The Seahawks never got the lead in single digits in the second half.
Both teams broke the 50 percent plateau in the first half, but the Pride used a late spurt to gain some separation from the Seahawks. The Pride wound up connecting on 58.6 percent from the floor and led by as many 12 points in the opening period. UNCW, meanwhile, converted 50 percent and 6-of-10 from long distance.
After the Pride scored the first five points out of the gate, Talley drained back-to-back three-pointers and the Seahawks enjoyed their only lead of the first half, 6-5, at 16:53.
The score was knotted at 25-all with 7:41 left to play when the Pride went on a 13-2 run over a 3:32 stretch to break away late in the first half.
Four different players scored in an 11-0 spurt and Pemberton’s bucket over Cacok and subsequent free throw gave Hofstra its largest lead of the first half, 39-27, with 3:59 left. The Pride made eight of their final 10 field goal attempts to take an 11-point lead into intermission.
GAME NOTES: The two teams meet again on Feb. 10 at Trask Coliseum…The Pride evened the series at 19-19…Hofstra snapped a three-game losing streak to UNCW…The Pride had not beaten the Seahawks on Long Island since Feb. 8, 2014…The Seahawks completed their first rotation through the league with the matchup vs. the Pride…With his 16 rebounds, Gustys became Hofstra’s all-time rebounding leader in Division I play with 1,201 caroms, snapping the old mark of 1,186 set by John Irving from 1974-77…Wright-Foreman has 1,201 points in three seasons with the Pride…Hofstra outrebounded UNCW, 38-24…The two teams combined for 20-of-36 from long distance…UNCW had 16 assists on 27 baskets…All 11 players saw action for the Seahawks.